By Elizabeth Kendal
The West today is hurtling down the road towards repressive authoritarianism. For, as Peter Hitchens observes in his fantastic book, The Rage Against God (Zondervan, 2010), "the new anti-theism [that is taking hold in the West] is emphatically not just an opinion seeking its place in a plural society. It is a dogmatic tyranny in the making." (p 206)
In September 2003, I wrote a Religious Liberty News & Analysis report for the World Evangelical Alliance on Belarus, entitled "Resuscitating the Soviet Machine".
The first part of the posting was devoted to a 27 March 2003 speech by Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenka, in which he declared: "Ideology for a state is what the immune system is for a living organism. If the immune system grows weaker, any infection, even the slightest one, turns deadly."
Lukashenka maintained that the inculcation of an official state-controlled ideology into the country's citizens was essential in order to protect Belarus from "infection".
To this end, Lukashenka recommended that an "official Belarusian ideology" be taught in schools, universities and workplaces, and promoted through the media and the Orthodox Church. Maintaining that dissidents could not be permitted to hold positions of authority or influence, he advised rectors of both state-run and private universities to get rid of professors and lecturers who oppose government policies or are "wavering" in their opinions regarding the government's course. "If you do not accept the ideas declared by the government and the president, do not apply to a state university for a job," Lukashenka said explicitly. "Before the end of the year , the state of ideological work in colleges, both state and private, should be changed drastically, or else we are going to lose our youth. I could say the same about vocational schools and general-education schools, especially those in Minsk."
Today when I read reports from the UK (example) and USA (example) of Christian educators, health care professionals, service providers and carers being expelled from their positions and dragged through the courts, I can only think of Lukashenka. For these British and American Christians are not being dismissed, expelled, sued, fined, struck off and closed down because of anything they have done. Rather, it is because of what they could not do: generally they could not affirm that all cultures, beliefs or lifestyle choices are equally good.
No Western state has, as yet, moved Belarusian/Soviet-style to formerly codify to implement an official state ideology. However, it is clear that forces with ideological agendas are comprehensively and aggressively yet subversively leading the West in that direction. Their success can be attributed to skilful organisation and propaganda with savvy use of media; and most critically, their devious hijacking of human rights.
Unless there is an awakening and returning, then the day will surely come when the Western world will follow the Belarusian/Soviet model, where no person may qualify for or gain employment as a teacher, professor, nurse, counsellor, doctor, service provider, administrator, supervisor, carer etc, unless they can affirm the official state ideology.
Individuals unable to do so will be deemed unsuitable for certain roles on the grounds that they do not comply with "minimum standards" (example). Institutions that cannot sign up to the state ideology -- something that will doubtless be determined through a registration process -- will likewise be penalised. At the very least they will lose government funding. At worst, they will be deemed illegal and forced to close or move "underground".
To justify the repression, dissenters will be vilified: made the objects of mockery, slander, vitriol and outright disinformation. This in turn will trigger an escalation in crippling discrimination and increasingly violent persecution. And if protecting the human rights of those vilified as backward, hateful, everythingaphobic dissenters is ever deemed politically unviable, then impunity will become the order of the day.
UK debates teaching same-sex marriage in schools
E-mails between the Home Office and the Department of Education suggest that teaching materials may have to be rewritten to cover same-sex marriage if the law changes to recognise same-sex marriage.
Anna Davis, Education Correspondent for the London Evening Standard reports: "In March a Home Office official asked the Department for Education whether schools have a legal responsibility to teach about marriage, and how the introduction of same-sex unions would affect this.
"The DfE responded: 'Under section 403 of the Education Act 1996, the Secretary of State must issue guidance designed to secure that when sex education is given to registered pupils at maintained schools, they learn about the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, there may be a need for the Sex and Relationships Education guidance to include some additional material in respect to same-sex marriage.' "
James Chapman, reports for the Daily Mail (UK): "Officials at the Home Office and the Department for Education concede that teachers may be under a legal obligation to inform children about same-sex marriage once it has passed into law.
"Under the Education Act 1996, pupils must learn about the nature of marriage and its importance for family life in sex education classes. . .
"Tory MP David Burrowes questioned whether schools will be able to exercise discretion on the subject. 'The issue of same-sex marriage is not just one about equality, but what happens in our school classrooms as well,' he said. 'Teachers should be able to exercise their consciences according to their own views on marriage, but that could well be constrained by these proposals. As much as I am sceptical about the Government being able to exempt churches from conducting same-sex marriages, I also doubt whether it will be possible to construct exemptions for teachers. They would be open to legal challenges. Is the Government really going to order primary school teachers to go against the views of the churches that run them?'
"Colin Hart, campaign director at the Coalition for Marriage, said: 'Marriage appears more than 3,000 times in law, affecting every aspect of our lives. It is simply impossible to redefine it without many serious unintended consequences, not least forcing schools to teach children about gay marriage, even if this goes against the wishes of the parents, children and teachers.' "
According to a senior lawyer, QC Aidan O'Neill, if the law is extended to include same-sex unions, then schools will be forced to promote same-sex marriage to their pupils, and parents with traditional and religious views who oppose same-sex unions, will be "hard-pressed" to remove their children from the classes.
Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern expressed her fears teachers would lose their jobs if they did not want to promote same-sex unions.
Conservative MP Peter Bone has also previously expressed concern for freedom of belief in schools, commenting that: "It is simply inconceivable in today's world where political correctness runs amok in our institutions, that there would not be profound consequences for those who hold traditional views.
"Parents who object will be treated as bigots and outcasts . . . discriminated against and persecuted because they hold views that have been enshrined in our laws and have been the cornerstone of our society for 2,000 years.
"And what of the teachers who object to teaching about same-sex marriage? Will they face disciplinary action? How will it affect their careers?"
In a brilliant article entitled, The new intolerance (April 2012) -- an article that serves as a perfect introduction to her book, The World Turned Upside Down (Encounter Books, 2010) -- commentator Melanie Phillip's writes: "Unlike Soviet Communism, the mass movements of today are not so much political as cultural: anti-imperialism and anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, environmentalism, scientism, egalitarianism, anti-racism, libertinism and multiculturalism. These are all not merely quasi-religious movements — evangelical, dogmatic, fanatical and with enforcement mechanisms ranging from demonisation to expulsion in order to stamp out any heresies. They are also millenarian and even apocalyptic in their visions of the perfect society and what needs to be swept aside in order to attain it.
". . . With both Communism and fascism defeated, however, the West has fallen victim to a third variation on the theme: not religious or political but cultural totalitarianism. . . . Moral and cultural relativism are the order of the day. Any attempt to prioritise any culture or lifestyle over any other is illegitimate. Subjective individualism is the one revealed truth, the old order of Western civilisation has to be destroyed and any dissent is to be stamped out. "
Phillips wonders "what causes militant atheists to hate religious belief so much".
For an answer, she looks to the slogan that atheists promoted in 2009: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
"I think this fatuous slogan gets to the heart of why people have turned away from biblical religion," says Phillips. It's "not because it is irrational but because it puts constraints on their behaviour."
Peter Hitchens concludes his book, Rage Against God, along the same lines. "A new and intolerant utopianism seeks to drive the remaining traces of Christianity from the laws and constitutions of Europe and North America. This time, it does so mainly in the cause of personal liberation, born in the 1960s cultural revolution, and now inflamed into special rage by suggestion that the sexual urge should be restrained by moral limits or that it should have any necessary connection with procreation. This utopianism relies for human goodness on doctrines of human rights derived from human desires . . . These must then be policed by an ever more powerful state." (p 213-214)
In his March 2003 speech, Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenka denied that ideology was an invention of the Soviet-era Communist Party. "In Western states, the very system of ideological work is concealed from the general public's eye," he stated. "However, it is as comprehensive and aggressive in Western states as Soviet standards, or even more so."
And he is right!
To follow these issues visit:
The Christian Institute
The Christian Legal Centre
Alliance Defending Freedom (previously known as Alliance Defence Fund), in particular, watch the ADF video (2:36 mins): "In A World Where Marriage Is Redefined Religious Freedom Does Not Survive." (18 June 2012)